Adrienne Su is the author of Living Quarters, Having None of It, Sanctuary, and Middle Kingdom. Her poems appear in many anthologies, including four volumes of Best American Poetry. Recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, she is professor of creative writing and poet-in-residence at Dickinson College.
Peach State has its origins in Atlanta, Georgia, the author’s hometown and an emblematic city of the New South, a name that reflects the American region’s invigoration in recent decades by immigration and a spirit of reinvention. Focused mainly on food and cooking, these poems explore the city’s transformation from the mid-twentieth century to today, as seen and shaped by Chinese Americans. The poems are set in restaurants, home kitchens, grocery stores, and the houses of friends and neighbors. Often employing forms—sonnet, villanelle, sestina, palindrome, ghazal, rhymed stanzas—they also mirror the constant negotiation with tradition that marks both immigrant and Southern experience.
Excerpt from “You’re from the South?”
As if it had never joined the Union.
As if we had to go through Customs
when bringing Vidalia onions
to uncles and cousins
in the North, where Confucians
and their brethren flock for education.
As if our speech required translation
or at least interpretation.
As if Hartsfield-Jackson
were a plantation,
the Amtrak Crescent
a moon over rows of cotton,
and all of us a population
that never saw snow or migration.